Survivor The Australian Outback: In Retrospect

I decided to rewatch every season of Survivor, starting from the very first one.  Here I share my thoughts on the season, the winner’s strategy, who they should bring back, and the most iconic moments of the show.

  1. Borneo
  2. The Australian Outback
  3. Africa
  4. Marquesas
  5. Thailand
  6. The Amazon

In this post, I share my thoughts on the second season, Survivor The Australian Outback.

Good Guys at the End


The Australian Outback had a much more memorable and likeable cast than Borneo. It’s no surprise that half of the cast became returnees in later seasons, the latest being Jeff Varner and Kimmi Kappenberg, both pre-jury boots. The only duds, I would say, are Mitchell, Kel, Nick and Amber, but even Amber returned to All Stars, and we all know what happened there.

Throughout the season, there was one philosophy being preached: only the good and deserving players should remain at the end, a probable backlash to the villain, Hatch, winning the first season of the show.

The pre-merge of the second season was great, with a lot of interesting moments happening in both the Ogakor and Kucha tribes. The Ogakor tribe had Jerri, the show’s first female villain and my favorite Outback castaway, who fell for the cowboy Colby. Jerri’s chocolate obsession and Colby fantasies were all very entertaining segments on the Ogakor side of things. The Kucha tribe had the psychotic Mike killing the pig and Kimmi and Alicia’s feud over the chickens.

When the merge came, things started to get boring. With Kucha’s Jeff being eliminated during the merge tribal council and Kucha being down 4-6, it became very apparent that Ogakor was going to dominate the post-merge. The boot order became very predictable – with Jerri’s boot being the only one quite shocking. The only notable moments during the post-merge was the flood carrying the tribe’s rice away, Tina and Keith’s subsequent reclamation efforts, and Colby and his cringefest sleepover during the car-prize reward challenge. The Australian Outback is also the only season to extend to 42 days, but I think it would’ve been better if it was just 39. The finale was also way too stretched out. With only one challenge remaining and two hours to kill, most things could have been edited out.

Overall, the season was a lot better than Borneo. At least in this season the contestants weren’t strategy-averse. Colby, Jerri and Tina elevated this season to greatness. I would love a Colby-Jerri captain season one day. Please make it happen.

P.S. Personally, I was on camp Jerri in the Colby-Jerri drama. I thought Colby was hostile with Jerri. Even though Jerri could be seen as annoying, Colby was way too rude.

The Winning Game


Tina Wesson

Tina Wesson played a strategic and social game. In contrast to her precedent, Richard Hatch, Tina’s game was very, very subtle. She maintained a Southern mom facade, but underneath that was a very strategic player who always put her brain above her heart.

She was able to make deep connections with people – people she knew she would eventually vote out – making her an unquestionable jury threat. But you know what? In the final three tribal council, when Colby was fortunate enough to win the final immunity challenge and had to decide on who to sit beside in the final two, he shockingly picked the immensely likeable Tina over the unlikeable and probable goat Keith. Why did Colby screw up his game at the last minute? Throughout the game, Tina preached to the everyone that deserving people should stay in the end. This mentality stuck with Colby. However, I’m pretty sure if Tina won that last immunity challenge, she would have picked Keith to stay over Colby.

Colby was a very tough competitor in front of the jury, but she was able to snag the majority vote due to her brilliant social game (Elisabeth and Keith votes) and sly strategic game (Alicia and Jerri votes). Even though Colby won 7 out of 8 of the endgame challenges, Tina was able to build social connections which turned out to be more important than challenge prowess.

Please Bring Back


Maralyn “Mad Dog” Hershey

It was a travesty that Mad Dog went home so early. She was the third boot of the show, only reaching day 9, but it was enough time for her to become one of my favorite personalities in the Outback.

Mad Dog was a likeable character, and she bonded with Tina instantly, probably due to them both being middle-aged Southern women. Due to the short length of her stay, she wasn’t able to display any sort of strategy, and her finest moment was probably being the only one apologetic of accusing Kel of smuggling beef jerky.

Mad Dog is a character that is interesting because of her personality, not her strategy, in the same vein as Pearl Island’s Rupert. Hope she’s still healthy enough to play a second round.

Moment of the Season


Michael Falls Into the Fire

Michael Skupin was the first medivac of the show, falling into the fire after passing out due to smoke inhalation. The moment he fell wasn’t actually caught on camera. Only the aftermath was shown, with him screaming, hands stretched in front of him, by the shore. He rushed to the water to soothe his burns, but the damage was too excessive. You can actually see the skin on his fingers floating on the water. There was no question – he had to be pulled out of the show.

Michael falling into the fire was an emotional moment for the then-dominating Kucha tribe. Elisabeth and Alicia were in tears as the helicopter carrying Michael flew out of the camp. Prior to Michael’s accident, Kucha was ahead of Ogakor by one member. His departure from the game led the two tribes to have an even split going into the merge. If Michael hadn’t fallen into the fire, Kucha would have probably won the immunity challenge against the very weak Ogakor, leading to a 6-4 split into the merge. Kucha would have probably Pagong’ed the Ogakor tribe, leading to a different winner of the game.

Michael’s evacuation was the game-changing moment of the season.

Runner-up: Tina and Keith save the rice during the storm.

Most Hilarious Moment


Mad Dog at the Reunion and Back from the Outback

Basically, Mad Dog was the star of the reunion show. Her jokes of wanting to stay longer to be able to wear a bikini, being the prophylactic police, and her playing of the didgeridoo were all very entertaining.

Not only that, her post-show interview during the Back from the Outback segment was amazing. After getting back from Australia, Mad Dog got two tattoos, one of a kangaroo and the other a crocodile, and bought a tanning bed to maintain her tan.

Runner-up: Colby dropping Jerri during the Great Barrier Reef reward and their subsequent “honeymoon”

Season and Winner Rankings

*To be updated as I rewatch the other seasons.

Season Ranking

  1. The Amazon
  2. The Australian Outback
  3. Marquesas
  4. Borneo
  5. Africa
  6. Thailand

Winner Ranking

  1. Brian Heidik
  2. Tina Wesson
  3. Richard Hatch
  4. Vecepia Towery
  5. Jenna Morasca
  6. Ethan Zohn

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